In November 2014, I met Paulie O’Byrne as part of a video interview series created for the Possible Campaign. As Paulie started to tell his story of the sexual abuse that he has suffered at the age of 21, I was taken back on how he just owned it, and proclaimed that he wasn’t going to let it control his life anymore.
After we wrapped his interview, I was overwhelmed with need to start a conversation with Paulie. He inspired me to say something out loud that I’ve told very few people in my life.
When I was a child, I was sexually abused over the span of 3 years by two different predators. Both of these men enforced my silence with threats to my family if I spoke up. Both of my parents had no clue that this was happening to me, because I was terrified to say a word. My parents were living separately, and both of these instances took place without their knowledge by people who were friends, and invited into their homes.
All of it would have stopped if I had just broken the silence that I was told I must keep. This is where predators have all of the power… in the silence that they force their victims to take.
For 30 years, I have kept my silence.
Today I hope to take some of the power back, and start to heal a part of my soul that has felt broken for so long. For so many years I was ashamed of what happened to me, and kept it locked away in a very safe place. It is something that I think about everyday, and on some days, I let it get the better of me.
Starting a conversation about abuse, is the first step to healing. Paulie’s strength and bravery has inspired me to tell my story.